Authors: Ciara Knight
Tags: #demons, #Paranormal, #Angels, #Young Adult
Rise from Darkness
Battle for Souls Series
Rise from Darkness
Copyright © 2012, Turquoise Morning Press
Trade Paperback ISBN: 9781937389925
Digital ISBN: 9781937389932
Editor, Ayla O’Donovan
Cover Art Design by Dawn Dominique
Electronic release, March, 2012
Trade Paperback release, March, 2012
Turquoise Morning, LLC
P.O. Box 43958
Louisville, KY 40253-0958
Warning: All rights reserved. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work, in whole or part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, is illegal and forbidden, without the written permission of the publisher, Turquoise Morning Press.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, settings, names, and occurrences are a product of the author’s imagination and bear no resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, places or settings, and/or occurrences. Any incidences of resemblance are purely coincidental.
This edition is published by agreement with Turquoise Morning Press, a division of Turquoise Morning, LLC.
To Jennifer Wood, Giselle Darius, Danielle
, and Rebekah Spann for being my teen beta readers.
To Worth our Weight in Books for the kind words and encouragement you’ve given me during this crazy process.
This novel would not be possible without the endless dedication of so many. A special thank you to:
for acquiring this book; KJ Jacobs for taking a chance on a new author; Ayla O’Donovan, my patient editor; my critique partners,
McQueen, Lynn Rush,
Murphy, and L J
; and my family for all their love and support.
Rise from Darkness
Alexander Lorre gives new meaning to the term “tormented teen.” He’s a newly fallen angel, which means he has the self-control of a three-year-old, the hormones of a teenager and the strength of an angel. When he rescues Gaby Moore from drowning, the chemistry between them is undeniable. With a local demon threatening Gaby’s life, he struggles to find a balance between remaining close enough to protect her but distant enough to control his desires.
As danger draws closer, Gaby uncovers shattering secrets that will lead to an ultimate choice. Will she fight alongside her father, an earthbound hunter killing fallen angels and demons, give into the demon blood coursing through her veins and join the demon world, or save the man she loves from both? The first two choices damn her, but the last one could destroy them all.
Life couldn’t suck any worse if the demonic creatures from Gaby Moore’s nightmares became reality and snatched her into a void of darkness. What difference would it make considering even now, awake, claws of sadness ripped at her soul?
Seagulls squawked above the endless blue ocean and down the empty beach. Gaby sighed and returned to her work. With her dark stained finger, she smudged the gritty edge of blue tinted charcoal mixing it with white, attempting to create the crest of a wave. Nothing helped. It still looked more like a dark alley than a serene ocean. The picture lacked flare. Everything she’d created in the last year was flat, devoid of energy or life.
Curling her toes in the coarse sand, she inhaled the salty air. Heat pulsed against her skin. She rubbed the jagged edges of the circular scar on her knee. The ugly mar of flesh was a constant reminder of the fatal car accident that claimed her mother’s life. A tremor shot through her and she clutched her leg trying to control her shaking hands. “No. Not now.”
A dull burn coursed beneath her skin, but she refused to give into the sadness even if it was the one-year anniversary of her mother’s death. She tossed the pencil into the art box and slammed it shut. The little green
capsules, stashed in her art supplies, rattled in their bottle. She reached for the latch but pulled away. They didn’t make the world brighter, only suppressed the sadness, leaving behind nothing. She was tired of avoidance, it didn’t work.
The water surged up the beach beckoning her to swim. She bolted from her beach towel, raced across the damp, packed dirt, and dove into the cool surf, leaving behind the dark images of that night.
Once beyond the crashing waves, she floated on the sea’s surface, letting the ripples soothe her skin.
“I miss you.” Clouds rolled by, the light blue canopy above reminiscent of her mother’s bright eyes.
Droplets of water fell from Gaby’s fingertip as she traced the other burn mark on her shoulder. Her dad once referred to the scar as her, ‘Mitsubishi Branding.’ Three diamonds joined at their points. Somehow the car logo had seared into her skin. The smell of gasoline and burning rubber still haunted her. At least the injury had healed to faint lines, but the loneliness tugging at her heart remained.
If only she could break away from her suffocating life, maybe she could escape the black hole of nothingness. Two more years and she could leave for college. If her plan worked and her dad kept his promise on her eighteenth birthday, she’d be free. Her heart twisted at the thought of hocking her mother’s wedding ring, but it would be the only way to start a new life.
Water swooshed and bubbled in her ears. The sauna-like temperature massaged the tension from her aching body and she felt each muscle relax while she floated. A welcomed change from the past three days of being cooped up in the tiny, broken-down shack her dad referred to as home.
Yeah, some home. Kemp, Florida, located north of Tampa and south of Tallahassee, but west of nowhere. Still, she was determined to make it work this time.
Dark, swollen clouds rolled toward the Florida coastline, stealing the warmth of the sun. A storm threatened, just like every other late summer afternoon in this desolate coastal area.
Treading water, she slicked loose strands of her hair back from her face. A shadow swirled below and she blinked, narrowing her gaze. Her heart pounded her ribs, thumping at the speed of the swelling surf. She closed her eyes for a second. “Just your psychotic brain at work again.” She held her breath and forced her gaze back to the water.
She caught a glimpse of the sea creature before it plunged into the depths of the ocean.
Imagination, nothing more
. Forcing her shaking limps to steady, she inhaled deeply and refused to panic this time. Every little bump in the night had paralyzed her since the dreams had started, but not this time. This was going to be a new year, a time to face fears and make a plan.
A slight tickle at her feet sent a charge up her leg, but no fangs pierced her skin.
. Calmly, she started a modified breaststroke toward shore. Her arms still shook, but at least she’d avoided the full on panic attack like the ones that left her in a crippled heap on her bedroom floor. Swimming in the ocean was no place for one of those.
Four or five strokes and her breathing returned to normal. The waves were picking up and pounding against the back of her head, but she continued to swim, riding the surf when possible.
The water tugged at her body from below with each retracting wave. She picked up speed, fighting the undertow her father had warned her about.
Something rough like sandpaper brushed against her leg. Kicking feverishly against the current that tugged at her feet, a shadow torpedoed away. She turned and was face smacked by a wave, sending her underwater. She clawed to the surface. Hands fisted, she tried to swim but continued to stay in the same place. So much for not panicking.
She paddled toward the beach. Each stroke took her farther from the white sands. Panic urged her to kick harder. Still nothing. It was like the never-ending hallway nightmare.
The clouds merged into a sheet of darkness overhead. Wind picked up and the calm, rippling ocean morphed to battering waves.
The muscles up her sides and over her shoulders knotted. Acidic burns rippled along her back from exhaustion. Salt water caked her eyes, stinging like acid.
I’m going to die out here. Mom. Help me.
Her limbs weighted her down, dragging her to a stop.
She heaved through the crushing pressure in her chest and searched for the beach. It was gone. No beach, no trees, only miles of water in all directions.
“Just a dream…just a dream.” It had to be one of her nightmares. She concentrated on waking, but nothing happened. Trapped.
A large wave crashed over her like a deity emerging from the ocean depths to consume her. She choked and spit the seawater from her mouth. The salt singed her throat and nose. It wasn’t a dream.
Her muscles cramped. Paralyzing pain ripped through her.
Dread crept in.
“Help!” Another wave rolled over her. “H-help, p-please.” Thunder muffled her weakening pleas.
The ocean wanted to claim her, but she kicked to keep her chin above the water. Her ankle caught in something. She twisted but it only tightened. Fire shot up her calf, through her thigh, and spread to her abdomen.
She plunged her head under and contorted into a ball, reaching to free her foot. Her fingers brushed a bumpy surface. It moved, tightening its grip. She cried out releasing a mass of bubbles, and slammed her heel into whatever encircled her ankle. It released and she kicked to the surface, spitting and choking.
Terror seized. Her entire body trembled and she wanted to scream but only whimpers escaped between panicked gasps.
A dark mass the size of a compact car smashed into her side, knocking what little wind she had from her lungs.
Arms encircled her chest and jerked her back down into the dark sea. Water flooded her mouth. She scratched at the vise around her middle. It couldn’t end like this.
She swore she heard a sinister laugh reverberate around her. Despite the sting of the salt, she tried to focus in the murky water. Four shapes spun around her, all in different sizes. Monsters, from her dreams. They were real.
Not real, only an episode.
The largest one circled faster and faster, the menacing chuckles grew louder.
The creatures defied the laws of nature the way they moved and sounded in the water.
Relax, and it will fade
. But her heart continued to thrash against her ribs.
A figure resembling a four-horned bull clasped her waist and threw her towards another. The four dark shadows tossed her body back and forth like a basketball. Searing pain burned against her flesh.
Oxygen fought for escape, pressuring her lungs for release. She blew out the remaining air and sucked water in. Her throat scorched as if she swallowed hot-lava. Her chest constricted and she spewed water only to swallow more.
Darkness curved the corners of her vision.
Who will take care of Dad? Maybe death will be better than life on Earth without Mom.
Dark shapes swarmed closer.
Her mind warred with her body and her body won. Muscles relaxed and her brain surrendered to her fate, welcoming peace.
Brilliant navy light flashed in a bright explosion around her. Sadness still clung to her heart for a life never truly lived. But at least the suffering would end.
Her mother appeared and the edge of sorrow receded allowing a hint of hope to surge in for the first time in a year. She wanted to melt into her embrace. Hands outstretched, Gaby reached for her mother’s arms in hopes of being together once more.
Gaby choked, and expelled water onto the ground, leaving her throat raw.
A reassuring hand patted her shoulder. “You’re okay,” a masculine voice said.
Wiping her mouth against her arm, she took in slow deep breaths. A musky-wood scent soothed her shaking body. Her surroundings came into focus. She was lying on the beach. Sand covered her hands and crept into her bathing suit.
“She’s coming round.” His tender melodic voice sang in the wind, soothing her convulsing body. Blinking toward the falling rain overhead, she wiped the water from her eyes and saw him. The most heavenly creature knelt beside her. Sandy blond hair accentuated his bronze skin. His denim blue eyes with gold specks radiated a warm, white glow.
She blinked several times. Was she hallucinating? Light surrounded his face and provided a shelter from the harsh realities of what just happened. Confusion filled her. Shaking her head, she tried to focus but found it impossible.
“You all right? Maybe we should call an ambulance.”
Her lips moved, but speech escaped her. Finally she nodded. He helped her to a sitting position breaking the spell enough for her to ask, “I-I’m fine. What happened?”
“Your legs got tangled in some weeds. I heard you screaming from down the beach. It took some effort, but I was able to free you.”
Her head spun. Kelp? “No, that’s not what happened.” Seaweed didn’t burn or have cruel laughter. Her head throbbed at the memory.
“I think you’re still in shock,” a girl said in a gentle voice.
Gaby forced her gaze from the guy’s and looked to his left. A petite girl with bobbed dark-brown hair stood next to him, just a little behind his shoulder. White teeth shone bright from a reassuring smile.
The boy leaned in a little too close for comfort. An awkward tension infused her for a moment until his eyes penetrated her soul, filling it with such compassion she couldn’t think.
“I thought…” Pausing, she rubbed her head.
How could she tell them four sea monsters
straight from her recurring nightmares,
tossed her around like a basketball?
They’d think she was insane. She couldn’t let a rumor like that ignite. Not when they’d just arrived and she had no friends. The tormenting would be unbearable—’Hey, it’s the freak that lives in the old house in the woods.’
“Shark. I thought it was a shark.” It was the only thing that popped into her head.
“Really? I didn’t see a shark, but I’ve seen some out there before.” The girl’s voice raised an octave.
“Here, I’ll help you up.” He barely grasped her arm yet lifted her off the ground with ease.
“Thanks,” she murmured. As his hand clasped hers, pleasing warmth flowed up her arm. It reminded her of her mother’s touch. Then his hand was gone and so was the comfort. And she wanted, no, needed to feel it a moment longer. She imagined her entire body radiating with pleasant heat. What was she doing leaning toward some guy, when she didn’t even know his name?